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Wolfgang Rögner

Wolfgang Rögner

Michael Sanderling, Mariss Jansons, Kristijan and Paavo Järvi, they can all sing a song about it: they are repeatedly approached by their famous conductor fathers. The audience compares the personal musical style of the son with that of the old gentleman. And is happy when the family ties can even be seen on joint recordings. This is often an effort for the offspring, a very nice burden.

The violinist Valery Oistrach, however, born in 1961, carries the aura of the eternal offspring with a frame. “Playing with him reminds me very much of the tone and playing style of his grandfather David,” Yehudi Menuhin is said to have once said. If you scroll through Valery’s photo album, you’ll find lots of snapshots; Valery with the celebrity grandpa; Father Igor, how he adjusts the violin support to the son or corrects the bow hand. He made his European debut alongside his father, and on recordings he can be heard with the elderly Menuhin and Igor Oistrach in Bach’s triple concerto. Thus, the announcement in the concert calendar of the Kreuzkirche, “Oistrach in Dresden”, without mentioning the first name, is of course a tongue-in-cheek PR chess move by the organizer.

Even with the last name of the conductor of this concert – Wolfgang Rögner – a smattering of memories should immediately be applied to music-loving Dresdeners. After all, the conductor Heinz Rögner was often a guest in Dresden, conducting both the Staatskapelle and the Philharmonie; Rögner’s interpretations can still be heard today through numerous recordings, from the light operetta to the heavy Bruckner symphony. Wolfgang Rögner now, born in Thuringia in 1951, has met the somewhat better known namesake several times; the family tree shows a common line. In Weimar, where Heinz Rögner had once begun as Kapellmeister, Wolfgang studied from 1970-74, and then immediately became Kapellmeister in Plauen and Zwickau. And in the early eighties he was allowed to go to Leningrad for an additional study to the old Arvid Jansons. He said: Wolfgang, you have to win one or two competitions now. Rögner registered for the conductor competition in Budapest, the rounds went over five weeks, of more than a hundred participants who had to have studied eight operas, and thirty-six symphonic works, in the end the best would be left. Kurt Masur helped Wolfgang Rögner with the preparation, the young conductor went to Budapest, shared a room with the young Dutchman Hans Rotman. One studied in the room, the other in the bathroom; in the end, Rögner was one of the winners of the 1983 vintage. And with an invitation from Rotman, he went back to the GDR: “Come to Amsterdam!” he had said. After two years of waiting, Rögner was actually allowed to drive, and for the following years he was hired as first guest conductor to the famous Nederlands Dans Theater, where the renowned Czech Jiri Kylien was the choreographer. “Sometimes it’s just like that,” Rögner laughs: “that you have to be in the right place at the right time!”

Early retirement workers on call

At home in the GDR, Rögner’s path as chief conductor led to the German-Sorbian Volkstheater Bautzen. He remained until the turn of the century, then moved to the Theater Erfurt as general music director. He remained there for eleven years; but with the appointment of the new director Guy Montavon, this time, “in any case the most beautiful time of my life”, passed. Successful as chief conductor and GMD at a larger multi-division house – now the next stage of the usual Tippeltappeltour would have been on. “But somehow it wasn’t the time,” Rögner shrugs; he could not find a suitable place, “everyone was sticking to his chair”. The conductor made several guest appearances at the Semperoper, eventually went back to Bautzen and took up the position as director and managing director of the Sorbian National Ensemble, where he wrote a piece every year – from musicals for children to ballet and opera. After eight years, he was placed on leave in 2010; the newspapers speculated on various reasons. Eventually, an agreement was reached out of court.

Just over a year ago Wolfgang Rögner moved to Coswig and sees himself “quasi as a pre-retirement company on call”. There are still many dates on his calendar: with “Puellarum Pragensis”, whose exclusively female members sit in leading positions of various Prague orchestras, and with the “Dvorak Philharmonic”. In addition, the conductor is in conversation with other orchestras, recently conducted the Camerata Busan in South Korea or was a guest at the Vogtland Philharmonic. In any case, he does not want to sit down on the old part yet. And Dresden? It is hardly a matter of getting to the big projects. So why not set up your own orchestra? Said, done: the “Neue Kammerorchester Dresden” was born! The deputy 1st concertmaster of the Staatskapelle, Jörg Faßmann, sits at the first desk, and other Kapell colleagues occupy the voting leader positions. One thing is important to Rögner: “The soloists must meet their own artistic standards.” Most recently, Yuki Manuela Janke was a guest; this time the soloist is called Oistrach. The ticket pre-sale, Rögner smiles, is going well.

1951 Born in Thuringen, Germany

1964 – 1970 Special School of Music Weimar / Belvedere

1970 Abitur

1970 – 1975 Studies at the University of Music “Franz Liszt” Weimar (main subjects: conducting and piano)

1975 State Exam

1975 – 1978 Solo repetitor and Kapellmeister at the Theater der Stadt Plauen / V.

1978 – 1985 1st Kapellmeister in Zwickau

1980 – 1981 Additional studies at the Rimsky-Korsakof-Conservatory St.Petersburg (masterclass by Prof. Arvid Jansons)

1982 Diploma at the International Béla – Bartok Seminar in Szombathely / Hungary

1982 Winner of the 4th International Conductor Competition of the Hungarian Radio and Television (Mentor: Prof. Kurt Masur)

1982 Diploma at the Interpodium – Music Festival Bratislava / Slovakia

1985 – 1989 Chief Conductor and Music Director at the German – Sorbian – Volkstheater Bautzen

1986 – 1989 Lecturer in contemporary music of all conductor classes at the Academy of Music “Carl Maria von Weber” Dresden

1985 – 1989 First Principal Conductor at the Nederlands Ballet Orchestra Amsterdam and Music Director at Nederlands Dance Theater, The Hague

1989 – 2000 General Music Director at the Erfurt Theatre and Chief Conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra Erfurt

1990 – 1994 also Opera Director at the Theater Erfurt

1994 Award of the German Music Publishers Association for the best concert program of all German cultural orchestras

1994 – 1998 Managing director of the Philharmonic Orchestra Erfurt

1998 – 2002 Freelance conductor and writer

2002 – 2010 Director and Artistic Director of the Sorbian National Ensemble Bautzen

2010 – 2015 Freelance conductor and writer

2015 – 2018 GMD and Chief Conductor at the Leipzig Symphony Orchestra

2017 – Spiritus rector and director of the NeuSeenLand-Musikfest Zwenkau

2018 – 2020 Freelance as conductor and writer

01.08.2020- Chief Conductor and Managing Director of the Leipzig Symphony Orchestra.


1992 Founder of PHILHARMONISCHE FESTTAGE ERFURT Artistic director until 2001

1994 Co-founder ERFURTER DOMSTUFEN – FESTSPIELE musical director of performances and concerts until 2001

2004 Founder MUSIKFEST SCHMOCHTITZ artistic management until 2010

2017 Founder NewSeenLand – Music festival artistic overall management to the present day

Guest conductor with internationally renowned orchestras:

Staatskapelle Dresden (“Barbier von Sevilla” / “Rose”, Dresden Philharmonie, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Radio SO Frankfurt / M., Rundfunk SO Leipzig and Berlin, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Staatskapelle Weimar (“Magic Flute”), State Philharmonic Orchestra Athens, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, NBO Amsterdam, Philharmonic Orchestra Tessaloniki, Senri-Bach-Orchestra Osaka, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Dvorak Philharmonic Prague (Tour 2008), Orchestra Association Zurich/Tonhalle, Vilnius State Opera (“Tannhäuser”), Orchestra Association Basel, G.- Verdi Philharmonie Milan, Radio SO Bratislava, Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado de Mexico, Orquestra Nacional do Porto, Sofia State Opera (“Carmen”- 2008) , Orchestra Puellarum Pragensis (Tur, 2011), Berliner Symphoniker (European Tour 2019) and others…